If you are a first time dog owner or you’ve owned dogs before but never tried to train them, dog training can seem like an impossible task that requires professional help. But the truth is, you can effectively train your dog on your own!
All you need are a lot of patience and a few of the right techniques! Some of the more advanced tricks might require a professional or at least someone with a lot of experience but you can definitely handle the basics like house training, leash training, and good behavior.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to train your dog to behave well and keep your home mess free! There are so many great reasons to train your dog on your own and once you learn how to do it, you’ll be glad you did.
So read on to learn more about the benefits of dog training, the kind of techniques you can use, what sort of dog training supplies are available to help you, and more!
There are lots of things you can train your dog to do but even if you just do basic dog behavior training, you are going to see a lot of benefits. Here are a few of them:
Whatever your reasons, training your dog is a great idea and will be a very rewarding experience for both you and your dog. If you’re still not sure you can manage it, there are always obedience training classes you can take your dog to that will make it much easier.
Once you’ve decided to train your dog, it’s time to choose whether you’re going to use positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement. There are pros and cons to each and what you choose should be based on your dog’s temperament and what you think it will respond best to.
Let’s take a closer look at what is involved in each.
Positive reinforcement involves giving a reward to your dog each time it performs the correct behavior. You don’t punish the bad behavior, you simply withhold rewards until you see the correct behavior.
Here are some of the pros of positive reinforcement:
There are some downsides to this form of reinforcement that should be considered, however:
Negative reinforcement involves using a punishment each time your dog performs a behavior you are trying to get them to stop. The punishment is usually the same each time. You don’t actively reward correct behavior. But punishment is withheld unless you see the dog doing the bad behavior.
Here are some of the pros of negative reinforcement:
There are definitely some important cons to consider before choosing this method.
Ultimately, the method you choose depends on what you think your dog will respond to best and what you are trying to train. If you are trying to encourage a specific behavior (like teaching commands), positive reinforcement is better.
On the other hand, if you are simply trying to stop an undesired behavior (like chewing up your things or rummaging through the garbage), negative reinforcement is usually more effective since rewarding your dog all the times he’s not rummaging through garbage is going to require a lot of treats and it’s unlikely your dog will understand why he’s being rewarded.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the more general ideas behind dog training, it’s time to start getting into the specifics. Here are some methods we recommend for doing your own in home dog training.
This is basic dog obedience training that will help position you as the alpha of the house that your dog both loves and respects. You can use the same fundamental method to teach multiple basic obedience commands.
Read up on some of our favorite obedience training methods here. These basic commands and behaviors will go a long way in making home life with your dog more enjoyable and peaceful. But it will also form the basis for training other, more advanced tricks and skills to your dog.
You can also use these methods for how to train a dog not to bark, and how to train a dog to stay. In order to make the process more effective, we recommend dog clicker training which uses a clicker device (read our review on the one we recommend below) to immediately signal when your dog performed a good behavior.
Here are some great tips for dog clicker training.
Most dogs just require basic obedience training to know the difference between good and bad behavior. But some dogs might be a little aggressive and have a temper to deal with. You need to teach these dogs to control their aggression.
The first step is understanding dog aggression and where it comes from. When training him to be more social, you should avoid negative reinforcement as this could instigate an aggressive reaction. Stick with positive reinforcement and gentle encouragement.
Potty training a puppy can be a frustrating (and messy) experience but unless you get a dog that has already been house trained, it’s something you will have to do. So learning how to house train a dog properly is very important.
If you start off on the right foot and stick to your program, you will be able to make this experience as easy as possible (but you should still be prepared for stress and frustration). So here are our tips for potty training a dog:
The answer really depends on your dog. Some breeds learn more quickly than others and, more importantly, each dog has his or her own personality. A more stubborn puppy will take longer than a more docile one.
It also depends on you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve found the best way to potty train a dog. It’s not going to work if you don’t stick with it consistently.
On average, however, plan for it to take anywhere from 4 to 6 months of consistent training before your puppy is 100% completely trained. You will see gradual progress within this time.
Smaller dogs typically take longer to house train than the larger breeds since they have smaller bladders and faster metabolisms.
It can also be used to help potty train your dog. But if you don’t know how to crate train a dog properly, you can end up accidentally causing long term trauma and anxiety. So make sure you come up with a good plan and stick to it.
This method from the dog training expert, Cesar, is an effective way to gently and safely crate train your dog.
Leash training a dog can be one of the easiest or one of the hardest things to do depending on your dog’s temperament. Some dogs take to it quickly and don’t mind being on a leash. Others cannot stand it. In either case, it will take some training to get them comfortably wearing and respecting the leash. Here is a method we recommend:
In order to make any of the above strategies and techniques more effective, you should follow these tips so that you can ensure whatever method you go with is being used as effectively as possible:
Here are a few of our favorite products to help make your dog training sessions run smoothly and effectively.
ARIKON No-Pull is a heavy duty dog harness that comes in two sizes. It’s great for leash training because it wraps around the chest and distributes pressure evenly rather than wrapping around the neck and potentially choking an overeager dog.
The straps are adjustable for an even more customized and comfortable fit. However, they don’t make one for small dogs so if you have a small breed or a young puppy (under 10 lbs.), this will be too large.
A good treat that your pooch absolutely loves is essential to any positive reinforcement training method. Rocco & Roxie Gourmet Jerky Dog Treats are a great option for that. You can try them in beef, chicken, or turkey to see which one your dog prefers most.
Not only is it a super enticing treat, it’s made from healthy and natural ingredients. It’s totally free of fillers so you can treat your dog without harming his health! They are a bit pricey as far as dog treats go but we recommend breaking the sticks into pieces to make them last longer.
All-Absorb Training Pads for potty training your puppy are effective when you can’t be there often enough to take the puppy outside often enough (or you are planning to have an indoor dog). These are super absorbent and dry quickly so they contain the mess well.
We do have to admit it’s not always that appealing to come home to a stained training pad, though so unless you have no other option, we’d recommend just finding a way to make time for effective outdoor potty training (or keeping the pad in a discreet place).
Atertek AT-216C is a training collar that offers 10 different levels of electric shock intensity as well as a vibration feature. It’s a negative reinforcement technique that can be used to correct any unwanted behaviors and also help with potty training, leash training and so on.
While it is safe and can be effective when used with a training strategy, some owners find the idea of causing discomfort to their dog undesirable. It won’t cause permanent damage but it can be upsetting. If you have a particularly sensitive dog, we wouldn’t recommend this option.
For those who are reluctant to use a shock collar training system, PetSafe Ultrasonic Indoor Bark Control can help train your dog to stop barking without electric jolts. Instead, it emits an ultrasonic sound in response to barking. The sound is at such a high pitch that the human ear cannot detect it but it is extremely annoying to a dog’s ear. But annoying is far better than painful!
Unfortunately, some dogs just don’t respond to this kind of training so there is a slight risk it won’t work for you. Fortunately, this brand has a No Bark Guarantee in case you happen to have a dog that isn’t responding to it.
Clicker training is great for more stubborn or easily distracted dogs. A&S Creavention Dog Training Clicker Set will grab the attention immediately. You learned about clicker training above. If it’s something you are interested in, this is our favorite clicker set.
It’s totally free of electrics which means it can essentially last forever (unless it is physically broken apart). It’s simple, easy to hold, and easy to use. The only risk is that it’s small enough that it is easy to use so we recommend having a designated place that you keep it.
Potty Bells Doorbells is a great device that we strongly recommend. It is a durably built string of bells that you can hang from a doorknob or hang anywhere near the door. Then, you train your dog to swat the bells when they need to go outside.
So no matter where you are in the house, you will hear the bells and immediately know what your dog is trying to say. This avoids any messes from your dog holding it in too long while waiting to go outside.
No matter how much your puppy wants to please you, there are going to be accidents when you are still in the potty training phase. And you need an enzyme spray like Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator to clean up the mess because if a puppy smells a lingering odor from an old mess, they will mistakenly think that is the place where they are supposed to go potty.
This spray not only removes the stain, it also completely removes the odor so your puppy won’t smell anything. Regular cleaners might seem to eliminate the odor for you but your puppy’s extra powerful sense of smell can detect odors even when your nose can’t. So you will definitely need this spray.
After reading this guide, you are now prepared to embark on your own dog training program. Once you’ve created one, stick to it through thick and thin. Both you and your dog will be rewarded for your patience and commitment!